Being eco-friendly is important to me, which is why one day in the shower, I went “this loofah probably won’t break down.” And then I thought about how it is filled with water and never fully dries, and went “this is probably filled with very UN-clean bacteria. Ew.”
It’s true. When it comes to bacteria, plastic loofahs are pretty damn gross. While there are ways to dry it out, most people don’t do it properly. In a HuffPost article, Dr. Michele Green, M.D., a New York-based board-certified dermatologist, explained that “You spread the bacteria that you washed off your body the last time. … The loofah is spreading yesterday’s dirt back on your body.”
It’s especially bad if you have wounds. (Me, picking at acne, I’ll admit it.) If you have an open wound and get into your scrubbing, you can end up with infections, like staph, if your loofah has bacteria in it (which it probably does). This is because you’re pushing the bacteria into these wounds, giving them VIP access beneath your top layer of skin.
When it comes to being eco-friendly, loofahs are also bad for the environment. Their plastic doesn’t break down, so they sit in landfills for up to thousands of years. On top of this, these loofahs are filled with bits of microplastics, which go down your drain, end up in the ocean, and add to pollution. Not really saving the sea turtles, you know?
So, okay, let’s be done with that plastic bullshit. Don’t want to part with your scrubber? Good news: there are natural loofahs that will still get you squeaky clean.
What’s the Difference Between Natural and Synthetic Loofahs?
Synthetic loofahs are synthetic, obvs. What this means, in detail: they’re made from the aforementioned plastics, with the mesh making them into their classic shape – a scrunched up, grabbable, fun ball. There’s a reason they’re alternatively called “bath poufs.”
Natural loofahs, on the other hand, are made of natural ingredients and plant fibers, making them compostable and biodegradable; the first loofahs came from the Luffa aegyptiaca, which is fibrous and creates a tube shape, rather than a bunched-up ball.
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Just because they’re not made from mesh plastic doesn’t mean they’re less efficient. The natural loofah still exfoliates just as well as your synthetic loofah – it’s just better for the environment.
How to Wash Natural Loofahs
When you wash a synthetic loofah, the suggestion is to put it in a diluted bleach solution or hydrogen peroxide for five minutes. Throw it in the washing machine with your whites, and hang it to dry. However, this can be bothersome for skin – especially those with particularly sensitive skin. And those with sensitive skin might skip the bleach, and then you have an unsanitary, bacteria-filled loofah. Gross.
Natural loofahs are easier, because you shouldn’t be applying bleach to natural sponges. This is because they deteriorate quickly, lessening their life span compared to synthetic loofahs. You also can’t throw them in high heat, because they can harden and/or shrink (sound familiar to cotton? Exactly).
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Instead, soak your natural loofah in warm – not hot – water and baking soda every two weeks at the least. Add baking soda based on the size of your loofah. In between washes, dry it after every use as much as possible (no simple hanging it up to dry), rinse it thoroughly of soap and bacteria, and keep it outside of the bathroom to avoid humidity, which accelerates bacteria growth.
The Best Natural Loofahs
Now that I’ve convinced you that natural loofahs are the way to go, I’m giving you options that will keep you clean and keep the environment coasting as well.
If you have sensitive skin, you’re probably wary of rough exfoliation. These natural loofahs are made from Egyptian fibers, which are thick and flexible, so sensitive skin won’t burn after a rub down.
This loofah is multi-purpose: use it to clean your body, or your bathtub, or your dishes… if it needs to get clean, this loofah will do it. It’s made from a single-family farm in Guatemala, and its 100% plant-based material is of the Mayan heirloom variety.
Hand-harvested in the Bahamas, this natural loofah is 100% biodegradable thanks to its composition: all-natural sea wool. It’s important to note the hand-harvesting, meaning that it’s responsibly-sourced.
I’m from central California, and I never want to leave (how many times have I been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium? Not enough. Never enough). The Central Coast Luffa is responsibly-farmed and dried here, and it’s 100% biodegradable. Yes, 100%. Get on it.
If you love knowing exactly where your products are from, this Etsy story doesn’t disappoint. The Mayan material of these loofahs are sourced from Zambia; specifically, the Copperbelt, along the Zambezi River. The seller recommends requesting a soft high-density loofah for your body, compared to firm low- and high-density loofahs used for cleaning around the house.
Will you be switching to natural loofahs now? Share below – and we certainly hope you’ll say yes!